New Bedford Pathways: Tour 2 "Old Bedford Village"

The area bounded by the Acushnet River, Union, and County Streets forms part of the original tract of land, which in 1760 defined what would become the city of New Bedford. That year, Joseph Russell sold lots to ship builders, carpenters, and housewrights

New Bedford Pathways: Tour 2 "Old Bedford Village"

New Bedford, Massachusetts 02740, United States

Created By: New Bedford Preservation Society

Tour Information


New Bedford Pathways

The area bounded by the Acushnet River, Union, and County Streets forms part of the original tract of land, which in 1760 defined what would become the city of New Bedford. That year, Joseph Russell sold lots to ship builders, carpenters, and housewrights, and the Village of Bedford was established. In 1765, Joseph Rotch came from Nantucket to exploit the natural deepwater port found here. In a short time, whale hunting became a local preoccupation, and a very successful one after the War of 1812. At the height of the Whaling Era (1825-1925) there were 329 whaling and trading vessels registered in New Bedford. This port became one of the busiest in the world. The homes built by whaling captains, who had by now become international merchants, still line the streets of New Bedford. New Bedford also attracted formerly enslaved men and women seeking freedom being a stop in the Underground Railroad and the presence of the Anti-Slavery Society. There were also opportunities for employment in the whaling industry and a coastal trading system that provided escaping slaves opportunities to hide on vessels heading to New Bedford from southern ports.

Tour curated by Jan da Silva

New Bedford Preservation Society Board Member

Tour Produced by: Patricia Daughton

Photo Credits:

Steve Gladstone

Spinner Publications

New Bedford Whaling Musuem

Patricia Daughton

Kayla Rausch

New Bedford Free Public Library

This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

83 Spring Street,  The Friends Meetinghouse, 1822  Joseph Rotch donated the lot to the Friends in 1785. The Friends Meetinghouse represents much of what the surrounding community found valuable. While Friends had claimed to strive only fo... Read more
  17-19 Seventh Street, 1785, National Historic Landmark This structure was the original Friends Meeting House located on Spring Street. In 1824, the Society of Friends embarked on the construction of a new brick Meeting House on Spring St... Read more
  21 Seventh Street, Nathan and Mary (Polly) JohnsonNational Historic Landmark Federal and Greek Revival Styles 21 Seventh Street, built by Nathan Johnson, is a mix of both the Federal and Greek Revival styles. The original two-story house... Read more
27 Seventh Street, Ruth L. Smith House, circa 1870,Stick Style The Ruth L. Smith House is one of the few late 19th century homes built in Old Bedford Village. Ruth Wilcox, the daughter of a whaling captain, married Henry Smith, a mariner wh... Read more
30 Seventh Street, William H. Allen, 1831, Greek Revival Style This brick structure replaced a wood frame house destroyed by fire. This Greek Revival style residence has a highly decorated front entry with Corinthian columns on the portico.... Read more
43 Seventh Street – Captain Edward Merrill House, Federal Style, 1825 to 1833 This Federal style, five-bay hipped roof house was built by Captain Edward Merrill between 1825 and 1833. Captain Merrill came to New Bedford from Maine to work... Read more
One Howland Terrace, Nathaniel C. Smith, 1910, Craftsman’s Style Designed by and built in 1910 for noted New Bedford architect, Nathaniel C. Smith, this residence is an early Foursquare style. The shingled wall covering is broken by a str... Read more
47 South Sixth Street (rear), Mary Rotch House, 1838 The green vinyl-sided house behind Our Lady of Assumption Church was built in 1838 for Mary Rotch, age sixty-one, and the youngest child of William Rotch, Sr. In that same year she moved ... Read more
42 South Sixth Street, Tifereth Israel Synagogue, 1924, Byzantine style Originally built as the Tifereth Israel Synagogue in 1924, it is the first religious edifice in which the Byzantine style of architecture predominates. The dominant fea... Read more
 38 South Sixth Street – Captain John Howland Jr. 1834, Federal and Greek Revival Styles Captain John Howland, Jr. was a partner in the firm of 'J. and J. Howland,' which he co-owned with his brother, James. John Howland, Jr. was born in... Read more
34 South Sixth Street, David Coffin House, 1934, Federal and Greek Revival Styles This home was one of several large and imposing homes built by successful merchants after the installation of streetlights and paving stones on this street, c... Read more
23 South Sixth Street, Gideon Allen House, 1830, Greek Revival Style   In 1830, a fire destroyed brothers Gideon and William Allen's back-to-back homes located on lots on Sixth and Seventh Streets. Both brothers immediately rebuilt their h... Read more


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